Dead Reckoning Tier List – March 21st, 2018

Tier lists are now updated on a monthly basis. The next update will be posted in April.

This tier list is valid for Patch 1.29 (Dead Reckoning)

Dead Reckoning Tier List – March 21st, 2018

Hello friends! aReNGee is busy this week, so he has asked me (Neon) to fill in on actually writing up the tier list! A lot has happened since our last tier list, including a major balance patch, and the release of the “Dead Reckoning” campaign. This has led to some major shifts in the ladder meta, as we will see in our tier list this month. Though there is very little in the way of new deck showing up, we see a pretty big shake up in where everything stands. The changes are almost too numerous to list, but some of the highlights include Vara and Pathfinder being hit hard by the nerf bat, while control decks got access to tools like Hailstorm and In Cold Blood. How do things shake out after this flurry of changes? Let’s find out!

The Tier List

Keep in mind that in a rapidly evolving metagame a single piece of new technology can throw everything out of whack, but the following list should be a good snapshot of how things were the week of the Seeds of Dissent.

Explanation of Tiers
Tier 1 – These are the most successful and prominent ladder decks at the moment.
Tier 2 – These decks are powerful and great ladder choices, though noticeably less popular or powerful than tier 1 decks.
Tier 3 – These decks are usually quite powerful when they go off, but need a strong draw to work or have some other exploitable weakness. Fine choices for the ladder, especially if the metagame favors them or you minimize their weaknesses.
Tier 4 – These decks are less powerful than Tier 3 decks or are wildly inconsistent.

Decks in italics were not on the previous Tier List.

Official Tier List

Tier 1

Feln Control, Skycrag Aggro, Icaria Blue, Argenport Midrange

Tier 2

JPS Removal Pile, Rakano, Praxis, FJS Armory/Removal Pile, Hooru Midrange, Elysian Midrange, Big Combrei, FJP Plate

Tier 3

Chalice, Grenadin, Stonescar Aggro, Scream, Xenan Midrange, FJS Gunslingers

Tier 4

No decks are tier 4 this list.

Unlisted

Echo Makto, Reanimator

Explanation of Tiers

Tier 1

The deck setting the pace of the metagame has been Feln Control. It has been a long time since this deck was at the level of popularity we are seeing right now, and people are right to be excited. The card quality in Feln is superb, and with access to two of the most powerful cards from the Campaign – Hailstorm and In Cold Blood – the deck now has devastating counters to some of its most problematic match ups. Rakano has, historically, been the deck pushing Feln Control out, but these new cards seem tailor made to fix this weakness. Current iterations of Feln Control are quite mid-rangy in their build, looking very much like a “tap-out control deck”. The Vara nerf has meant Champion of Cunning is pulling more weight then ever, though Channel the Tempest has become a substitute for a top-end finisher. Though the deck has its weaknesses, having access to so much raw power means there is no match up where Feln is truly helpless.

If I had to choose an aggro deck to counter Feln Control, it would likely be Skycrag Aggro. It has long been said that one of the best ways to ladder is really just a question of finding the best Oni Ronin deck. In a world of Hailstorm and In Cold Blood it seems like the best approach is to load up on aegis units like Vadius and Snowcrust Yeti and charge units like Champion of Fury. Even opponents that are ready for you will struggle against your best draws on the play. If I were looking to be aggressive this is what I would be playing now.

Swinging back to the controlling end up things, we have Icaria Blue. Though the deck did not gain quite as much from Dead Reckoning as Feln Control, Hailstorm is still a big addition. Aside from a slightly shaky influence base, as well as clunky early game, Icaria is still extremely powerful, even in a world where In Cold Blood is popular. The match up against Feln Control has felt fairly even in my estimation overall, but each individual game often feels like a blow out from either side. Games where Feln lands a turn 7 Gift without being under pressure, or slams a fully powered Champion of Cunning are landslides, just like when Icaria Blue is able to curve into the namesake card on curve. Either deck faltering on power can spell doom, or drawing too many situational removal spells. Beyond that, Icaria Blue has a solid match up against the various Commando decks that are still around. Dawnwalker decks are starting to re-surface, which can be a cause for concern, but they are not popular enough yet to warrant abandoning the deck. Though I personally think Icaria Blue is a shade behind Feln in terms of both power and popularity, it is still and excellent choice for ladder.

One deck to keep an eye on is Argenport Midrange. As the saying goes, “Tavrod finds a way”! TonyGeeeee won the invitational this weekend in the Argenport midrange mirror, which is pretty impressive for a deck that many considered “dead”. It should be mentioned that these versions of Argenport “Midrange” are pretty aggressive compared to previous builds, but let’s not dwell on semantics. I feel like people are finally appreciating how good Crownwatch Paladin is when paired with Unseen Commando, and when Temple Scribe + Grenadin Drone are out of the meta. We can also see that Ripknife Assassin has pushed out Tinker Overseer for the time being. Finally, Crownwatch Traitor and Inquisitor’s Blade have been brought up to the big leagues! It is quite exciting to see where all of this goes, as this is a neat new take on the archetype. The popularity of the deck seems to really be surging at the moment, so it is difficult to tell how things will shake out in response, or if the deck is just a fad.

Tier 2

JPS Removal Pile or “Tin Pile” has honestly impressed me on the ladder, and falls just short of tier 1. The fundamental principle of the deck is to be the biggest control deck. 0 units in the deck means that all of the In Cold Bloods, Vanquishes, Harsh Rules and Hails Storms the rest of the ladder is playing are stone cold bricks. Instead JPS relies on finishers like 4 Channel the Tempest, 3 Duelist Blade, 1 Sword of the Sky King, and sometimes 1 The Last Word to finish the game. Looking at the list you can see it has been heavily teched against Feln. 2 Devastating Setback before the 4th Hailstorm. 0 Annihilate. 4 Cobalt Waystone for maximum player aegis. Though Feln Control is clearly the deck with biggest target on its head, this deck has reasonable match ups across the rest of the field. I have long said that basically any deck with Lightning Storm, Wisdom of the Elders and Harsh Rule can only be so bad, and once you bring in Hailstorm and Strategize that principle is doubly true. Though I have a number of issues with individual card choices for the deck, the fundamental strategy is better positioned and more popular than it has ever been before. It should be noted that while I think JPS Control is well positioned right now, it won’t take much to push the current build out of the meta game very rapidly. As we will see, Dawnwalker midrange is starting to make a resurgence, and this deck cannot put out the light.

Rakano is probably more popular than it is good right now. Before Dead Reckoning dropped I think I would have said Rakano was one the decks to beat, but the printing of Hailstorm and In Cold Blood have really pushed Rakano off its throne. The fact that the entire deck dies to Hailstorm is really all you need to know on “what happened to Rakano”. Though some might point to In Cold Blood as being responsible for this decline, that is less about actual game wins, and more about feel-bad moments in my opinion. A lot more of Rakano’s games are lost to turn 3 Hailstorm then Turn 4 In Cold Blood. Though I am obviously down on the deck, it still has enough raw power to keep the attention of many ladder-enthusiasts, and is certainly good enough to make master. It might be time to re-work the deck a little, possibly returning to more aegis-heavy builds.

While Rakano is in decline, Praxis is on the way up! It might be too soon to call, but Dawnwalker is ready to make a big comeback. There is basically no silence, no void hate, and no big blockers. It is hard to think of a better way to harass Feln, Icaria Blue, or Tin Pile then Dawnwalkers + Xenan Obelisk. The build I have posted came from the invitational this last weekend, but I would consider versions that go up to Mystic Ascendant. I am particularly interesting in the recent move to include Reliquary Raider in some lists, as the card re-worked has out-preformed my expectations. While we are here, I should throw in Elysian, which clearly falls under the same archetype of “big Time animals + Xenan Obelisk”. These decks seems to still need a bit more work as players find whether they want to go big or wide, as well as the mix of interaction they play. Popularity is still somewhat limited, but it could spike up if someone finds a good build of the deck.

Our next deck is FJS Armory/Removal Pile. While I appreciate that they are different decks at some level, they are similar enough in terms of their position in the meta that I feel comfortable grouping them together when discussing their match ups. In a world where Hailstorm kills everything that the Vanquish doesn’t, it feels pretty hard to opt for FJS over FJP when Primal has the better card draw. Getting player aegis virtually for free from Cobalt Waystone in Icaria Blue is also a big selling point in a world where Azindel’s Gift and Channel the Tempest have suddenly become popular. Still, builds of Armory are powerful enough to maintain a following, and there may yet be some room to improve the deck in the coming months. As we have seen in the past, the right card getting buffed, nerfed, or added can totally revitalize this archetype, but for now I would rather just play Icaria Blue.

The cards added in Dead Reckoning seemed to be crafted to specifically push up the power and popularity of Hooru. This was especially pronounced in the week or so right after the release, where Pacifier was fit into everything from skies aggro to tap-out control decks. At this point the popularity of Hooru has levelled off significantly, which is probably a result of Feln gaining in popularity. In Cold Blood is at its best against mid-rangy Justice decks, and Nostrix only magnifies its impact. More aggressive versions Hooru can also be 2 or 3-for-1’d off Hailstorm without much effort. Though the archetype still has promise, it doesn’t quite have enough setting it apart to warrant getting excited about for now. It is merely “fine”.

As always, Combrei is hanging out in the middle of the standings. It is neither good enough to become popular nor bad enough to fall out of play. In all honesty, Combrei is probably a bit better now then it has been recently. In Cold Blood is not a card that they want to play against, but it is also not crippling. Hailstorm on the other hand is pretty bad against Combrei, and Sandstorm Titan looks pretty good in a world where the defining aggro deck is Skycrag rather than Rakano. It is hard to pin down exactly what Combrei means right now, since you will see everything from Copperhall Elite and Xenan Obelisk to Vodakhan and Harsh Rule (and sometimes all of the above). The archetype is just not popular enough at the moment to really differentiate, or point to a “definitive build”. Still, the deck is good enough that you should expect to run into it occasionally, and there might be some next-level Combrei deck waiting to break out.

I can’t tell if I am just biased, but I really don’t understand why FJP Plate is so popular on ladder. It feels like it has synthesized the weaknesses of both Rakano and Skycrag, and the strengths of neither. I understand that Vadius + Deepforged Plate can win games by itself, but that can be said of almost anything wearing that oversized suit of armor! Yes, there are certainly games where it can pop off and look like the best aggro deck ever, but I can’t handle the inconsistency you experience for the relatively modest power spike you get from stretching your influence. I don’t think I am ever scared to run into it on ladder no matter what deck I am playing unless my draw is truly horrible. There are some reasons to like it more in a Bo3 scenario, but this tier list is focused on ladder. FJP plate barely makes it to tier 2 basically on popularity alone.

Tier 3

Chalice seems to be slowly creeping up in popularity again, but has not answered many of the challenges that pushed it out of the meta in the first place. Without a reliable way to pop player aegis it can be hard to win the game in the control mirror, and large aegis threats like Icaria and Champion of Cunning are fairly popular. With the right build I imagine Chalice could make it back into tier 2, but at present it is not popular enough to warrant the promotion.

It feels like there is a contingent of players beyond ExKirby that have an unnatural attraction to Grenadin, because the deck is still popping up from my experience. I will save my Dizo-related rants for now, but I really do not think the card solves any of the issues Grenadin has. That, and you are facing a format where some of the most popular cards include Hailstorm, Champion of Cunning, Black Sky Harbinger and Icaria. Grenadin is still powerful enough to be acceptable, but this is really not its time.

I honestly think Stonescar aggro is virtually unplayable for the time being. Eventually control decks will cannibalize each other to the point that Hailstorm works itself out of a job, but for the time being you just get dunked on by one of the most hyped cards in the format. Skycrag fights Hailstorm by playing aegis and Rakano fights it by buffing their units. I guess Stonescar fights it by conceding the fastest? I still see this around from time-to-time, but until the meta swings around, I would avoid Stonescar aggro entirely.

Scream might actually be pretty good right now all things considered. There seems to be very little void hate, very little silence, very little aggro, and very little Sandstorm Titan. The deck is obviously still fundamentally inconsistent, as it is always possible to draw up a hand of nonsense and die to a ham sandwich, but the best draws are just as nutty as they have always been. I have been seeing a little on ladder, but the deck is reasonably well positioned, so this seems like a great way to attack the meta if you want to be unconventional. I have also seem some lists using Skystrider, which I am skeptical of, but other seem to think it is working, so you might as well try it.

As of writing this I have started to hear some whispers that Xenan Midrange has been picking on ladder. I haven’t seen this myself, but I can’t see any reason why the deck would be bad right now, so it is probably a reasonable choice. Keeping it at tier 3 seems quite safe to me, but it could easily spike to one of the most popular decks by the end of the week.

Finally, we have FJS Gunslingers. Remember above when I said that FJP Plate was like a bad combo of Skycrag (a deck I thought was good) and Rakano (a deck I thought was kinda bad). Well, FJS Gunslingers seems like a combo of a bad deck (Rakano), and a horrible deck (Stonescar). In general I am not a fan of 3F aggro decks, but this one is so poorly positioned that it is not remotely worth the work. I can’t quite justify pushing this to tier 4 since the nut draws are still powerful, and if you are dodging Hailstorm you might be fine, but I really don’t see any reason to play this deck for the time being.

Unlisted

Echo Makto says goodbye with the effective removal of Elysain Pathfinder. Reanimator decks take a dive with the effective removal of Vara.